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Restoring '78 Dodge Power Wagon

Discussion in 'Introduce Yourself to the Community' started by Marcus91, Dec 3, 2010.

  1. Marcus91

    Marcus91 Junior Member
    Messages: 2

    So at the moment I'm working on restoring a '78 Dodge Power Wagon. Truck has been formerly been used as a plow truck for a good 15 years. I'm in eastern PA here so we don't have horrible winters so it hasn't been beaten up too bad. The guy who owns it has been a friend of the family for a couple of decades and is cool with letting me work on it at his house and paying for parts.

    We have a deal at the moment that if I decide not to take the truck after we get it fixed up he'll look for another buyer. The trucks been rusted pretty bad over the years, for example, we just replaced the brake lines for the second time, first time was back in '90.

    Now the truck in general is pretty solid, only has 21,000 miles on it, new starter, clutch, plenty of extra parts. In the process of replacing the fuel pump as we realized we're not getting fuel to the engine. Overall, the engine and drive train are in great condition. Its a V8 360 engine, plenty of power. The problem comes down to the body and the frame.

    The body is beat to hell frankly, plenty of rust holes all around the wheel wells, bottom of the door frames, and underneath. Bed and cab are still solid they have no leaks though. My plan is to take it to a shop I know, get them to take the entire body off the frame, sandblast the hell out of the frame, reinforce places possibly that are too weak, then rust coat the entire frame. After that the body needs some extensive rebuilding. At a guess I'm looking at about 4 grand for the body work.

    Now so far, we've probably put no more than 200$ into the truck, but we're starting to look at bigger bills, for example, blowing close to 900$ on tires so we can move the truck into the garage. The trucks been on jacks for almost 9 months. Right rear tire is flat. Rest have cracks in the sidewall so they will all need to be replaced anyways to get it on the road.

    The guy set this thing up for plowing, extra leaf springs to hold the weight of the plow, lifted about 8 inches. Tires are 33 inches at the moment, going for the same with the new ones. Truck has a crawler gear, hydraulic winch. Selling point for me at the moment is it comes with a Fisher plow which is still in great condition.

    Now what this all comes down to is the question. I'm putting a lot of money into this truck, and I plan to work it. I'm planning on doing snow during the winter, adding on to the construction and lawn business that I have. I'm hoping to get a good 10 years at least from this truck. My only worry at the moment is that I'm going to have some catastrophic failure. I'm looking at spending about 8 grand total on this thing at most, I can get the truck for 2. Now my question for guys who have similar trucks as this is what are your experiences. I am going into this understanding I'm going to break stuff, especially since I'm plowing, but my worry is how much, and am I going to get as much out of this truck as I will put into it.
  2. wva

    wva Member
    Messages: 78

    I think yo would be better off to spend your money on something else if you have to fix the frame it not worth 2 grand let alone 8 in my opinion with Friends like that who needs them
    That truck sounds like it is ready for the bone yard.no way you can use it for ten years plowing if the frame is that bad now your friend is no friend to sucker you into that kind of deal.tell him go blow and walk away. why would you blow $900 on tires for a truck that is not yours and that is rusted out and may never be road worthy and as far as mileage try 221,000 miles at least on a 32 year old plow truck this truck has sucker wrote all over it.
    turn around and run. nothing personal but you asked for opinions this is my 2cents
  3. fisher guy

    fisher guy PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,068

    sorry op but i'm with the other guy i love the old power wagons my buddy had a 78 with the 440 and it was a beast but he let it sit to long and and became scrap medal and that was florida of all places.. theyre great trucks but from ur post id rather spend the 8-10k on something a lil newer like a 99 f-350 with the 7.3 powerstroke or something like that... no matter how u do it ur not gonna get ur money back out of it it sounds like theres just too much rust and problems be smart and and buy newer it also makes ur biz look more professional with late model equipment
  4. fisher guy

    fisher guy PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,068

    also one last note those old trucks had 5 digit odometers instead of the normal 6 digit so that accounts for the low mileage
  5. Marcus91

    Marcus91 Junior Member
    Messages: 2

    The guys not screwing me on the odometer reading, I know that. My worry is the frame. Right now from the time I've spent under there I'll say theres an 80% chance that the frame will be ok without supports. I'm gonna see if the guy can buy those tires himself, its only right in my opinion he takes the risk. Guy ain't that bad, he pushed me around in a cardboard box when I was a kid. Thanks for the advice though. I'm going to start looking around for another truck. I've held reservations about this one for awhile.

    DAFFMOBILEWASH PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,581

    This is a loose loose situation for you. These trucks will melt from the inside out. If the outer shell looks bad then the floor pan and body mounts will be toast at best.

    IMO look for a non plow truck from the same era from down south. Transfer the plow and odds and ends to make it a complete plow truck. The old Power Wagons are awsome pushers but are not worth much... You will be way ahead of the game in using this one as a parts truck.
  7. wva

    wva Member
    Messages: 78

    IMO noway it worth $2000 for parts these are great trucks I'm got a '79 now got it in march it had 3 months on state inspection 60% on tires started right up frame is 100% the old farmer that had it spayed the yearly in no way a restorer a great beater. paid $400 IMO walk away even if he buys tires you are only getting four tires and a plow that will more than likely will need rebuilt and not worth $1100 before being redone and a winch that might be worth $200 used. IMO run :waving: